Director of CAIP

Biographical Information:

I received my Ph.D. in 2008 from Yale University, and trained at the APA-accredited clinical internship at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Psychiatry, Institute for Juvenile Research. I am an Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Comprehensive Assessment and Intervention Program (CAIP) at the University of Maryland at College Park.

I received the 2013 Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology (Applied Research) from the American Psychological Association, as well as the 2013 Early Career Research Contributions Award from the Society for Research in Child Development. In 2013, I was identified as a
Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science for my work on multi-informant clinical assessments and interpreting their outcomes. In 2011, I received the President’s New Researcher Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. I have also received Early Career Awards from both Division 5 (Quantitative and Qualitative Methods; 2015) and Division 29 (Psychotherapy; 2011) of the American Psychological Association. I have published 70 peer-reviewed articles in such journal outlets as Psychological Review (2006), Psychological Bulletin (2005, 2015), Annual Review of Clinical Psychology (2013),
Journal of Abnormal Psychology (2013), Development and Psychopathology (2013), Psychological Assessment (2004, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2016), Current Directions in Psychological Science (2008), and Clinical Psychology Review (2011). I have also received support for my work from the National Science Foundation (SES-1461392) and National Institutes of Health (MH67540; DA033913; DA018647-05S1).

I am the Editor of the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (2016-2021). I have served as Associate Editor for four journals, including the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology and Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment. I have also served or currently serve on the Editorial Boards of ten journals including the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Psychological Assessment, Behavior Therapy, and Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

In January 2011, I served as Guest Editor for a Special Section in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology on the topic of multi-informant clinical child and adolescent assessments. In collaboration with Dr. Amelia Aldao, I served as Co-Guest Editor for a Special Issue in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (March 2015) on implementing low-cost physiological measures in clinical child and adolescent assessments (i.e., assessments conducted in applied research and clinic settings). In March 2016, Dr. Aldao and I Co-Guest Edited Special Section for the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment on implementing physiological measures in clinical assessments of adult mental health. In October 2016, Dr. Christine Ohannessian and I Co-Guest Edited a Special Issue in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence on the topic of multi-informant assessments of family functioning.  

Research Overview:

Child and adolescent mental health patients lead complex lives. Indeed, mental health concerns arise out of an intricate interplay among biological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors that pose risk for, or offer protection against, the display of maladaptive reactions to environmental or social contexts. However, not all contexts elicit displays of mental health concerns to the same degree. Consequently, patients may display mental health concerns within some contexts, such as home or school, but not others, such as within peer interactions. In other words, patients vary as to the contexts in which they display mental health concerns. In fact, patients commonly vary in the contexts in which they display such concerns as social anxiety, attention and hyperactivity, conduct problems, and substance use. Further, clinicians might "miss" identifying mental health concerns if their assessments do not account for the possibility of patients displaying mental health concerns in some contexts and not others. Thus, clinicians often collect reports from multiple informants, such as self-reports from patients and also reports about patients from significant others in patients' lives, such as parents and teachers. 


Clinicians use multiple informants’ reports to make mental health care decisions, such as assigning diagnoses and planning treatment. Collecting these reports generates a great deal of information about a patient’s mental health. However, each informant’s report yields its own conclusion as to a patient's mental health status, and the conclusions from any two informants’ reports often differ from one another. For instance, an adolescent female patient receiving a clinical assessment prior to treatment may be identified as experiencing “low” mood based on a parent or teacher report whereas the adolescent self-reports her mood as “elevated”. We call these inconsistent conclusions “informant discrepancies".

Historically, informant discrepancies have created considerable uncertainty as to how best to care for patients. That is, we typically think of informant discrepancies as nuisances, methodological "junk" that only serves to make clinical decision-making difficult. Perhaps the uncertainties we encounter with informant discrepancies arise because we think they lack structure, they lack a defining pattern, and many of us instinctively look for patterns in what we observe. When we look to the sky and see clouds, we often try to make them out, and see if their shapes reflect objects that we commonly see on the ground. Thus, why would we view informant discrepancies as anything other than a hindrance to making clinical decisions or conducting sound research, if we cannot think of a good reason for their occurrence?


In my work, when I observe discrepancies in reports that I collect from patients and their parents and teachers, I try to figure out what makes these discrepancies tick. Importantly, commonly used informants of child and adolescent mental health, such as parents and teachers, often vary in where they observe children and adolescents, such as home and school contexts. Thus, informants often differ in their opportunities for observing child and adolescent concerns. Consequently, sometimes a teacher reports problems in a patient that a parent does not because the patient displays problems at school, but functions just fine at home. Sometimes, the opposite occurs and the discrepancies you observe between parent and teacher reports indicate that a patient displays concerns at home but not school. Other times, the discrepancies do not hold any value; they simply indicate that mistakes occurred in the process of gathering clinical information about the patient.


If I can find instances in which informant discrepancies hold value, and reliably distinguish these informant discrepancies from discrepancies that hold no value, then informant discrepancies become tools that I can use to better understand my patients. I can convert informant discrepancies from apparent weaknesses of mental health assessments into key strengths. In fact, a movement is underway in the health care field broadly that involves developing ways to deliver health care to meet the needs of patients who often vary widely in how they display symptoms, respond to treatment, or even in why they developed health concerns in the first place. In mental health care, informant discrepancies could assist in the development and implementation of techniques to care for patients displaying varying clinical concerns. Along these lines and with an emphasis on assessments of adolescent social anxiety and family functioning, I examine how informant discrepancies reveal meaningful information about the contexts in which patients display mental health concerns. By integrating traditional multi-informant clinical assessments with state-of-the art behavioral observation, performance-based, and physiological modalities for assessing patient functioning, I develop and test assessment paradigms that incorporate contextual information into personalized mental health assessments. My long-term goal involves examining whether these personalized methods of care improve clinical decision-making and patient outcomes.

Current Research

Broadly, my latest work falls in one of three domains:

First, I am very curious about why different people in children and adolescents' lives (e.g., parents and teachers) often view their behavior in different ways. In my research, I estimate the size of these differences and why they occur, as well as determine if the differences have an impact on the lives of children and adolescents. My long-term goal is to understand when differences in people's views of behavior tell us something important about the specific contexts in which these behaviors occur (e.g., disagreements between parent and teacher reports of a child signaling that the child behaves differently in home vs. school). Ultimately, I want these differences in interpersonal perception to serve as key tools for interpreting the behavior of children and adolescents and informing personalized assessments in clinical, research, and school settings. Findings from this work and the theoretical frameworks supporting it have appeared in the Psychological Bulletin, Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, and Journal of Child and Family Studies (see ResearchGate profile page). Currently, I am testing a context-sensitive approach to clinically assessing adolescent social anxiety. In August 2016 and in collaboration with Drs. Frank Gresham and Clayton Cook, we submitted an IES proposal to test a context-sensitive approach to school assessments of children's psychosocial functioning. In collaboration with Christine Ohannessian, in October 2016 we published Special Issue on these topics in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence (see here for more details).

Second, I seek to improve how researchers incorporate physiological data (heart rate variability and EEG), laboratory observations of behavior, and informants' behavioral reports in community based assessments. My work in this area focuses on improving comprehensive assessments of parent-adolescent relationships, with emphases on family conflict, parental monitoring, and perceived discrepancies in views on daily life events (e.g., completing chores and homework). Findings from this work have appeared in Psychological Assessment, Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, and Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
(see ResearchGate profile page). In December 2015 and in collaboration with Drs. Christine Ohannessian and Songqi Liu, we received funds from the NSF to conduct our work on parent-adolescent conflict. I am currently working in collaboration with Drs. Christine Ohannessian, Robert Laird, and Mo Wang on a revision to a previously submitted NIH application to continue funding the work on parent-adolescent perceived discrepant views. I also conduct much of this work in collaboration with Drs. Erica Glasper and Sarah Racz through our First-Year Innovation and Research Experience (FIRE) program (see FIRE page).

Third, I test novel paradigms for interpreting physiological data when clinically assessing adolescent social anxiety. In one area, I have used innovative methods for graphically representing physiological data, so that clinicians without a background in physiology can incorporate these methods into their clinical work. Initial findings of this work and review papers in this area have appeared in Psychological AssessmentJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent PsychologyJournal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, and
Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (see ResearchGate profile page). A portion of this work appeared in a recent Special Issue that I prepared in collaboration with Dr. Amelia Aldao in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. The Special Issue consisted of a collection of empirical articles broadly focused on implementing low-cost physiological measures in clinical child and adolescent assessments, and was published in March 2015 (see March 2015 Issue Page).